Celebrating rowing on the South Coast

Over 200 rowers celebrated their diversity at a new event to showcase the different aspects of the sport on the South Coast last Sunday (July 1st).

Hosted by Weymouth Rowing Club, crews from Bournemouth Surfboat Club, Langstone Cutters, Poole Amateur Rowing Club, Bristol Gig Club and Sea Cadets from Hampshire and Dorset gathered outside Weymouth harbour.

After a treasure hunt for the junior rowers, crews took part in a three mile time trial followed by a series of less gruelling exhibition races.

In an innovative move, rowers had the opportunity to try out each other’s boats with a few gigs, a coastal boat, two surfboats and a traditional Solent galley beckoning.

As the sun chased away the grey clouds, the camaraderie grew between the crews with different boats but the same sport in common.

Weymouth gig rower Gill Franche tried out a surfboat for the first time, saying afterwards, “It’s just amazing – but very wobbly. I’d liken the gig to a Daimler and the surfboat to a mini! I’m hoping to have a go in the coastal boat next.”

Chris Bream, a member of the Langstone Cutters crew who had brought Solent galley ‘Bembridge’ along, added, “It was brilliant to get so many traditional craft together on one day in such a wonderful location. The area is already buzzing because of the Olympic sailing anyway.”

Bournemouth surfboat rower and club founder Ellis Hagger was busy steering and illustrating surfboat technique to prospective rowers during the afternoon. He said, “It was great to see so many people come off the water with smiles on their faces.

“We even had a couple of 15-year-old passers-by who jumped into the surfboat and after a couple of goes they really clicked.”

All in all, about 50 passers-by grabbed the opportunity to try out the sport in boats provided by the Sea Cadets.

British Rowing National Manager Rosemary Napp enjoyed savouring the atmosphere of the inaugural celebration. She said, “The welcome extended to everyone at this wonderful venue was really fabulous. Many congratulations to Weymouth Rowing Club for their vision and planning of the weekend, and for their excellent organisation. It was a great day out, and a credit to all concerned. I’m sure rowing at Weymouth will continue to grow and grow.”

As crews started to prepare for the journey home, event organiser Katherine Morris reflected: “The day was a great success despite the threat of bad weather.” The British Rowing Wessex Participation Team Leader added, “It’s great to see people jumping into a boat that they haven’t been into before and being intrigued by the different types of rowing.”

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